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DS Exclusive: Joey Cape talks Lagwagon’s plans for Punk Rock Bowling, FEST 17 and beyond

 

This should come as not exactly breaking news, but this coming weekend in Las Vegas marks the twentieth installment of Punk Rock Bowling. Created by Stern Brothers of Youth Brigade fame two decades ago, the annual bacchanalian celebration of all things punk rock has grown into a much larger festival than it originally started out as, yet has, somehow, remained true to the the spirit of the scene that spawned it. It’s remains a must-see destination for punk rockers from not just around the country but around the world. Like, for example, Joey Cape.

The solo artist-slash-Scorpio-slash-Gimme-Gimme-slash-Lagwagon-frontman is not only pulling double duty at the event this year (he’s headlining a solo gig on Friday alongside Tim Barry – limited tickets still available here – and Lagwagon headlines the sold-out Fat Wreck Chords showcase on Saturday), but he’s been in attendance for all but a small handful of Punk Rock Bowling weekends over the last two decades. And while it’s long been a compelling event for Cape even if he’s not playing, he remembers having misgivings in the earliest years about if the concept would take off. “I’ll be honest, I remember the first year or the second year, thinking that “this isn’t going to last!” I didn’t know that it would work. I was definitely skeptical,” he explains. While Vegas has long attracted people from across all walks of life and garnered a well-earned reputation for glitz, glamour, and debauchery, there was something about the derelicts taking over and throwing a bowling party might be too much for even Sin City to handle. “I just imagined with all those people, that I was going to enjoy (the first installment of PRB) because it was definitely going to be the first and last one of those, you know!” Cape credits not only the Stern brothers for running a great ship, but the location itself for creating a unique environment that keeps the festival working. “It’s all in one area, and it’s in Vegas, which is just the built-in best possible platform. You throw a stone in any direction and there’s a bar or something else to do that’s wild and fun. That place has always been an escape for adults; like a Disneyland for adults. So you couple that with this kind of music, and there’s the simple absurdity of it that works for people.

There are a handful of milestone events coming rapidly down the ‘pike for Lagwagon this year, although when your band has been in existence for such a long time, there are seemingly no shortage of such milestones to celebrate. The band’s highly-regarded fourth album, Double Plaidinum, somehow turned twenty last year, while its stellar – albeit shorter – follow-up Let’s Talk About Feelings reaches the same milestone this year. Once Cape and his Lagwagon cohorts return from a fairly lengthy European tour in August, there are plans in the works to hopefully celebrate both albums in a meaningful way, and to tie them into an even larger and more meaningful milestone: 2019, you see, marks Lagwagon’s thirtieth year as a band. Kinda.

Within the band, we kinda go “is it ‘88 or ‘89?” explains Cape. “There was a band in ‘88 that I wasn’t in that was the band I joined. When I joined the band (Section Eight), I started writing songs for the band, and it was enough of a revamp. I like to think (it was) ‘88, but it’s funny, the one other member that was in the band before me, Chris Flippin, The Big Bitch, prefers ‘89.” Because of the somewhat nebulous origin of the band’s initial formation, the band have blown by several milestone anniversaries in the past – their 25th anniversary roughly coincided with the Fat Wreck Chords 25th anniversary tour a few years back, though even that tour came around the label’s actual 26th anniversary – but whatever timeline you go by Cape and his bandmates seem to realize that this milestone is an important one. “You have anniversaries that you’re married every year, and the tenth anniversary of a marriage is a big deal, so the thirtieth anniversary of a band should be celebrated! That’s five assholes trying to get along! And they’re not even having sex!”

Some plans to celebrate the band’s coinciding milestones are still taking shape, but we do know that Lagwagon will perform Let’s Talk About Feelings in its entirety at Fest 17 in Gainesville this coming October. Album-specific shows and tours have become more of the norm for bands of all genres over the last handful of years, and while that might give one initial pause to jump into that fray, there is a special lure to events like that if they’re done the right way. “I love doing it because I think there is a historic time-stamp that coincides with the release of an album,” Cape explains. “We obviously come from a generation where sequence and the entire album matter and have their own feel. That still matters to us, being old men in a day and age where singular songs and Spotify are the norm. I think there’s something really cool about doing it with a band. It takes playing a whole record to really revisit that vibe and that feeling and that climate that the band was in.”

Stay tuned for more on Let’s Talk About Feelings and Double Plaidinum plans in the ramp-up to Lagwagon’s 30ish anniversary in 2019. And who knows..maybe we’ll even get new music before 2019 is up: it has, somehow, been four years since the release of their latest full-length, Hang, after all. “We’ll probably get back in the studio by the end of the year or the beginning of next year, so we are going to actually follow through,” says Cape. “After we made Hang, everybody agreed and said “let’s stop doing this bullshit, let’s get right back on the horse after tour.” Between touring for Hang and touring for Fat Wreck’s 25th, anniversary, that “tour” lasted for a couple years, however. Cape jokes: “we toured for like two years, and at the end of two years it’s like “alright, I’ll see you guys NEVER! I love you guys, but fuck you!!

Head below to read our full chat with the Joey Cape. We caught up over the phone on the eve of “Lagwagon Day,” and a long, winding, fun conversation entailed, ranging from details on the band’s history to tidbits about new solo material. And let us know if you’re in Vegas for PRB or Gainesville for Fest!

 



Bad Cop/Bad Cop Stream Video for “Victoria”

Fat Wreck four-piece Bad Cop/Bad Cop are streaming a music video for their tune “Victoria”. The track deals with issues of dysphoria and struggling against a feeling of self worthlessness. It’s available for your viewing pleasure below.

“Victoria” appears on Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s 2017 record Warriors.



NOFX working on new music?

In a recent interview with Pittsburgh City PaperFat Mike of NOFX hinted that new material from the band is in the works and will be played on their ongoing Punk in Drublic Festival dates:

“People want to hear new songs. Our newest record has gotten better reviews than we’ve gotten in over 10 years.”

Of course the “newest record” Mike is referring to is their most recent studio album First Ditch Effort, which was released in October 2016 via Fat Wreck Chords. We’ll keep you posted as more details on new music from NOFX come to light. They released one new song last March “There’s No ‘Too Soon’ If Time Is Relative“.



Mad Caddies Announce Europe and North America Tour Dates

Fat Wreck’s ska legends Mad Caddies have announced their touring schedule for this summer. It’s pretty hectic too! The band will be promoting their latest album Punk Rocksteady across the continents of North America and Europe from May right through until mid-August. The record will be officially released on June 15 via their long serving label Fat Wreck Chords.

You can check out all the dates below.



Strung Out Stream Acoustic EP “Black Out The Sky”

Strung Out have gone considerably more chilled than we’re used to for their latest release. Black Out The Sky features eight acoustic tracks from the legendary Fat Wreck Chords band. The release is also the first from Strung Out since the departure of their long serving drummer Jordan Burns.

You can listen to Black Out The Sky below. The previous full release from Strung Out was their 2015 effort Transmission.​Alpha​.​Delta.



Music Video: Strung Out – “Requiem”

California punk legends Strung Out have released a music video for “Requiem”, which can be viewed below.

“Requiem” is taken from the band’s acoustic record Black Out the Sky, which was released yesterday.



Fat Wreck Chords announce “Fat Music For Wrecked People” compilation

Fat Wreck Chords have announced that they will be releasing a new compilation called Fat Music For Wrecked People. Contributions include tracks from NOFX, BadCopBadCop, Mad Caddies, The Last Gang, The Lawrence Arms, and Strung Out. The 7″ comp will feature 6 songs in total, with 3 coming from upcoming unreleased Fat Wreck albums, however, there is no info on which of these bands will be releasing new albums. Track names have also yet to be released. We like surprises anyway, so stay tuned and we will bring you all the details as they come to light.

The album will be available at Fat Mike’s Punk In Drublic Craft Beer and Music Festival. You can keep tabs on the release here.



DS Exclusive: Jason Cruz on “Black Out The Sky,” Strung Out’s upcoming dynamite acoustic EP

Back in February 2017, Dying Scene got an exclusive scoop from Strung Out frontman Jason Cruz that the California punk legends were working on a new EP titled Black Out The Sky, to follow up their last full length, 2015’s stellar Transmission.Alpha.Delta. While that was noteworthy in and of itself, the noteworthiness was ratcheted up to stratospheric levels by the additional revelation that Black Out The Sky was also going to be the band’s first collection of acoustic songs. Initial word was that we might see the album sometime in summer 2017, but then, news kinda dried up for a while.

Tomorrow, however, the official release of Black Out The Sky is officially upon us. We caught up with the one-and-only Cruz earlier this week to talk about the new album, and what exactly took so long for it to see the light of day. Needless to say it’s been a bit of a tumultuous run for Strung Out; the band officially parted ways with drummer of more than twenty years, Jordan Burns, a couple months ago, and have since brought Runaway Kids’ drummer RJ Shankle in as his replacement. “We had a tough two years, man,” explains Cruz. “There’ve been a lot of moments in the course of our career where we thought we didn’t know how we were going to get through it, but the last couple years were pretty tough. I think that this record is a catharsis to that whole time in all our lives.

Don’t let the “acoustic album” label fool you; Black Out The Sky is very much a Strung Out record, not just eight stripped down, straight-forward versions of Strung Out songs; the darkness and aggression that have become part of the band’s signature are still very much present. “Strung Out changed its guitar sound and it just happened to sound like this,” says Cruz. There’s also the fact that the band’s last album, Transmission.Alpha.Delta was so loud and intense that Cruz and the remaining band members felt it was time for a change of pace. “If your career’s a song, this is the breakdown before the big chorus (that comes next),” he reasons. “You can’t write another big, huge record right after that. To me, you had to do something like a buffer right in the middle of that to prepare for the next project.”

Strung Out’s guitar players, Rob Ramos and Jake Kiley, and bass player Chris Aiken have long been respected for the fast, aggressive, metal-influence that they bring to the punk rock table; it’s part of what has set Strung Out apart over the years. However, the switch to acoustic on Black Out The Sky puts the focus on the level of musicianship that exists within the band, an appreciation that only grows more intense with subsequent listens. “All three of them are the best guitar players in punk rock, to me,” states Cruz emphatically. “They’re phenomenal. I’m in awe of those guys. I shake when I have to show them an idea.” The added space gave Cruz the room to stretch his voice in some new ways, putting a real focus on the vocals and the lyrics. “What people don’t understand is that singing over loud, heavy metal guitars constrains you. When you take that out of the equation and you can actually hear the timbre of the voice, you have so much more wiggle room. A lot more is discovered in the singer’s voice when everything is a little naked, you know?

You can check out our full chat down below; brace yourself for the Footloose and Alice In Chains portions of the conversation! Black Out The Sky is due out tomorrow on Fat Wreck Chords, and you can still order it here. Strung Out heads out on the road in support of Pennywise in a couple weeks; check out details here!



NOFX Announce Live Album “Ribbed – Live in a Dive”

One of the biggest names in punk rock have announced a re-release of a classic album from their back catalogue. Ribbed – Live in a Dive is, as the name suggests, a live version of the NOFX’s 1991 record Ribbed. The release is scheduled for August 1, 2018 and, of course, features all 14 tracks from the original album.

For now, you can stream track number five, “Just the Flu” from Ribbed – Live in a Dive below.



Dead To Me premiere new song/video “Would It Kill You?”

Dead To Me continues their return with their latest single, “Would It Kill You?” The song is the second they’ve released this year, following up “Fear is the New Bliss.” Their last release was the 2016 EP “I Wanna Die In Los Angeles,” which marked the return of founding member Jack Dalrymple.

The band is working on a new album and will be touring next month.

Check out the video below!



Mad Caddies to release cover album “Punk Rocksteady”, stream cover of Green Day’s “She”

California ska-punk veterans Mad Caddies will be releasing “Punk Rocksteady”, an album of “reggae, ska, and/or dancehall covers of 12 punk songs hand-picked by Fat Mike.” Fans can expect it to hit the digital shelves on June 15th via (surprise!) Fat Wreck Chords.

The songs include Misfits’ “Some Kind of Hate,” the Descendents’ “Jean Is Dead,” Against Me!’s “Sink, Florida, Sink,” Bad Religion’s “Sorrow,” and Green Day’s “She,” the latter of which you can stream below.

This is Mad Caddies’ first release since Dirty Rice was put out in 2014 also on Fat.

Mad Caddies are also going on Fat Mike’s Punk In Drublic tour with NOFX, Bad Religion, and more, and they have upcoming headlining dates too. They’re playing headlining shows in the NYC-area at Gramercy Theatre on May 16 with Keep Flying and The Jukebox Romantics (tickets) and Asbury Park’s House of Independents on May 18 with Worthless United and Backyard Superheroes (tickets). All dates are listed below.



The Bombpops release video for “Dear Bear”

The Bombpops have premiered a video for “Dear Beer”, the title track from their recent Fat Wreck Chords EP, via New Noise Magazine. You can have a watch below.

The band tour Europe shortly, with some West Coast shows thrown in there too for good measure. Check current dates on the Fat Wreck site.



The Lillingtons release video for “Insect Nightmares”

Wyoming pop-punk veterans The Lillingtons have released a video for “Insect Nightmares”. The track is taken from their recent album Stella Sapiente” , which was released last October via Fat Wreck Chords.

You can have a watch below.



Album Review: Lagwagon – “Hang”

Ok, so Hang is four years old at the time of writing this but considering there was a nine year gap between this and Lagwangon’s last full length offering I think I can cut myself some slack. I started listening to these guys around the release of Hoss in 1996 and was a pretty avid fan through to Lets Talk About Feelings which came out in 1998. Those two releases (and Double Plaidinum which came between them) leaned more heavily on the melodic side of the melodic hardcore genre, with nods to their heavier, more metal infused first two albums. The band then went quiet for five years while members pursued other musical endeavors, singer Joey Cape’s new band (Bad Astronaut) taking an even poppier direction. With 2003’s Blaze, the band’s metal sound from their debut and sophomore releases (Duh 1992 and Trashed 1994) was more prevalent and the record failed to make much of an impression on me. In the intervening 15 years (fuuuuuuuck) Lets Talk About Feelings has been my go to record from Lagwagon. From that opening chugging riff on After You My Friend to the bittersweet melancholy on penultimate stormer May 16 the album is pretty much perfect all the way through.

Fast forward to 2018 and in preparation for the upcoming Menzingers / Lagwagon / Lawrence Arms show in London in August (not to mention Bad Cop Bad Cop and The Lillingtons) I’m filling in the blanks in my Lagwagon education. Resolve (2005) was written in the aftermath of the suicide of their friend and former drummer Derrick Plouride and lyrically is, understandably, influenced by that tragic event. Musically the album is a mix of melodic and heavier songs and it’s actually a really great addition to their catalogue which is quickly integrating itself into my current playlist.

Which brings me to their most recent, albeit now four year old, offering – Hang. It opens with Burden of Proof, a one-minute Joey Cape acoustic number which sees the first reference to the album’s title (“I see you hanging by your noose. Delivered, divine excuse”) of which there are several more throughout the album. As this subdued number fades out, second track Reign kicks in at breakneck speed, Cape’s vocals switching from mellow and melancholic to aggressive and angry and Lagwagon are back in style. There’s a really cool call back to a lyric in the opener (“It’s a sonnet. There’s no way to put a ribbon on it”) and the aforementioned “hanging man” so if you weren’t following the song titles you could assume the two openers were actually just one song. It’s an absolute belter and I’d love to see them open a set with these two songs back to back. I think the crowd would verily loose their shit! Made of Broken Parts starts with a super metal riff and chugs along nicely with a breakdown in the middle before further nods to the album title (“We can’t hang so we must hang. Can’t hang on so we disconnect”). Following song Cog in the Machine continues the more metallic bent and lyrical theme (machines, parts etc) and keeps the album flowing nicely. Poison in the Well is less overtly metal influenced, although does have a meandering guitar solo in the middle before returning to it’s previous fast pace. Obsolete Absolute starts with the sounds of typewriter before a rumbling bass line leads us into several minutes of an enjoyable rocking instrumental which is then joined by a spoken word narration of things which are becoming obsolete. Around two and half minutes in, the drum tempo increases and a pick slide delineates a shift in the song. Cape’s urgent vocals combine with fast tempo guitar work and it quickly turns into one of the stand out tracks on the album. We hear more about our friend “swinging…on the tree” and the spoken word narration returns to great effect, it really is an exceptional six minutes of music. Western Settlements starts with a relatively pedestrian but enjoyable chugging riff and beat before the drums and bass strip away to leave the guitar to accompany Joey Cape’s sombre vocal which comes in (“A hell of a thing. Hanging a man. Taking everything he has. And all he’ll ever have”). Then the rest of the band kick in again and we’ve got another belter on our hands. Burning Out in Style, opens with a bright vocal over a pulsing guitar and we get one of the most melodic tracks on the release. It’s a fucking corker too, exposing the mundanity and emptiness that lies beneath the shiny façade that some people portray themselves with. One More Song starts with a piano intro underneath a gentle vocal from Joey and is a poignant tribute to the much loved and sadly missed Tony Sly. It references a song Joey heard Tony working on the week before he died which becomes a metaphor for wishing he was still with us. It’s another slice of pure melodic perfection and a fitting tribute to the great man. Following song, Drag, is a reworking of one of Cape’s acoustic numbers, discussing his addiction to nicotine. It’s a little heavier than the previous two tracks without returning to the more metal sound from earlier in the album. You Know Me continues in the same musical vein, a mid tempo rocker which discusses how disconnected we are from each other despite the devices we now have that in theory could bring us closer together. Album closer In Your Wake is a bit of a blend of all the musical styles and themes from the album. It rocks along nicely then builds to a climax, only to slow down to a super poppy repeated refrain (“Inside your head”) over acoustic guitar and a slower drum beat which then itself builds, the full band kick in and we’re told “Your next to hang” over some breakneck speed classic ‘Wagon.

So there we have it, nine years in the making and four more before I actually listened to the damn thing and it’s pretty fucking special, I wish I’d pulled my finger out earlier. It has an urgency and freshness whilst still unmistakably being a Lagwagon album which should please diehard fans and win over new ones. Roll on August!

4/5 Stars



Strung Out Stream “Requiem” From Forthcoming Acoustic Record “Black Out The Sky”

Legendary Fat Wreck band Strung Out are streaming a track from a soon-to-be-released acoustic record. “Requiem” will appear on Black Out The Sky which is penned for release on May 11.

You can check out “Requiem” below.